YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew (2016) – Imperial Stout at 8.5% ABV | 50 IBU

YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew (2016) Imperial Stout at 8.5% ABV | 50 IBU (C$11.00 at YellowBelly Brewery, 1 l, no bottle date or best before, acquired 6-Jan-2017, reviewed 8-Jan-2017)_

Appearance: nearly opaque black with little or no relief around the margins, one finger of fluffy beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: dark chocolate, briny, boozy dark fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate to low carbonation, off-dry bitter and lightly tart finish. (4/5)

Somewhat surprising, especially when compared side-by-side to last year’s Porter. Yes, the Porter had an extra year of ageing, but this is surprisingly thin for an Imperial Stout. That’s not to say it’s necessarily lacking, but it might be another one that will benefit from some additional cellaring: there’s a lot going on here, and some extra time to mellow might help. It’s pretty mild for the high ABV, but the brine from the oyster is a little more emphatic than I think it should be, as is the rum note from the Lamb’s-soaked dark fruits. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew Cranberry Chocolate Porter (2015) – American Porter at 7% ABV | 38 IBU

YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew Cranberry Chocolate Porter (2015) American Porter at 7% ABV | 38 IBU (C$10.00 at YellowBelly Brewery, 1 l, bottle date 10-Dec-2015, acquired 19-Dec-2015, reviewed 8-Jan-2017)

Appearance: nearly opaque black with the merest hint of brown around the margins, two fingers of dense fine beige head, good retention and moderate chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: chocolate malt, red berries, toasted bread, light earthy. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate to low carbonation, off-dry bitter and lightly tart finish. (4/5)

I wasn’t all that impressed when I tried this new, but predicted it might benefit from some ageing. It would appear that I was gratifyingly correct in that regard: at just over a year in the cellar, this has become a smooth, well-integrated porter that could just as easily be called a stout, if not an imperial stout. The chocolate flavours dominate over the very mild red berry tartness (OK, fine, we’ll call it cranberry if you say so) but both are present with relatively restrained sweetness. Well-balanced and easy-drinking, we’ll see what happens to my last one of these after another couple of years’ ageing. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Thor’s Hammer (2014) – American Barleywine at 11.5% ABV | 85 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers Thor’s Hammer (2014) American Barleywine at 11.5% ABV | 85 IBU (C$9.64 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, bottle date 2-May-2014, acquired 8-Oct-2015, reviewed 7-Jan-2017)

Appearance: slightly hazy amber-brown with a short loose beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: boozy caramel malt, dried fruit, nutty, vinous, light pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate to low carbonation, lingering boozy bitter and lightly tart finish. (4/5)

I didn’t try this when I first bought it new more than a year ago, but I’m sure the additional year’s (and then some) cellaring hasn’t harmed it any. Perhaps the slight resiny pine hop note would’ve been more pronounced when new, but I doubt it, since it was already aged a year prior to release. There’s no hiding the 11.5% ABV even with extended ageing, but that being said it’s not solventy or excessively hot. No major character changes took place between opening it chilled (~10ºC) and allowing it to sit at room temperature for over an hour. A solid and enjoyable sipper. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mill Street Brewery St. John’s ESB – Premium Bitter / ESB at 4.8% ABV | 25 IBU

Mill Street Brewery St. John’s ESB Premium Bitter / ESB at 4.8% ABV | 25 IBU (C$7.00 at Mill Street Brew Pub St. John’s, 945 ml, bottle date 6-Jan-2017, acquired 6-Jan-2017, reviewed 6-Jan-2017)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one finger of medium dense off-white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel malt, nutty, diacetyl, lightly earthy. (4/10) Taste: moderate sweet, low bitter, light tart. (4/10) Palate: medium body, moderate to low carbonation, off-dry bitter and lightly sour finish. (3/5)

Second disappointment in a row from Mill Street. Unlike the dopple, this isn’t actually bad, but it’s not very good, either. This is hardly my favourite style to begin with, and I hate to claim diacteyl twice in a row, but dammit, it smells buttery to me, and unless I’m at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, butter’s got no place in beer. A second sink pour. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mill Street Brewery Downtowner – Doppelbock at 7.7% ABV | 24 IBU

Mill Street Brewery Downtowner Dopplebock Doppelbock at 7.7% ABV | 24 IBU (C$7.00 at Mill Street Brew Pub St. John’s, 945 ml, bottle date 6-Jan-2017, acquired 6-Jan-2017, reviewed 6-Jan-2017)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a short fine ivory head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel malt, diacetyl, lightly earthy. (4/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, low bitter. (4/10) Palate: medium body, moderate to low carbonation, slightly sweet and bitter finish. (2/5)

I’m actually quite disappointed by this. I was initially going to say it wasn’t actually bad, just not up to Mill Street’s standards, but no: it’s bad. Finishing the first small glass was a chore, and confronted with the spectre of finishing off the 32oz grunter I chose the better part of valour and dumped it. Serious swing and a miss, don’t bother. (8/20)

4/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ballast Point Brewing Company Sea Monster – American Double / Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 65 IBU

Ballast Point Brewing Company Sea Monster American Double / Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 65 IBU (C$13.50 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date 21-Dec-2015, acquired 28-May-2016, reviewed 3-Jan-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with deep ruby highlights, one fat finger of fluffy medium beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: cocoa, coffee, boozy dark fruit and red berries, hint of vanilla, pale malt, lightly earthy. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, light metallic. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body dropping off to watery, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (3/5)

Not bad, but falls a little short. There’s a slight metallic tinge instead of a clean high ABV heat, and the body seems to fall off just a touch to a slightly watery finish. I’m starting to think that oatmeal – somewhat counterintuitively – makes for a thinnish (imperial) stout. Bottom line, not as good as I was hoping for, but not bad. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Anchorage Brewing Company Rondy Brew (Batch #5) – Saison at 6% ABV | 30 IBU

Anchorage Brewing Company Rondy Brew (Batch #5) Saison at 6% ABV | 30 IBU (C$15.00 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 1-Feb-2015, acquired 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 2-Jan-2017)

Appearance: hazy pink-tinted amber with one fat finger of rocky pinkish head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: barnyardy funk, floral, oak, white pepper, hint of stone fruit. (8/10) Taste: low sweet, moderate bitter, moderate-high tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, bone dry funky finish. (4/5)

Really nice example of a brett saison, even if the ABV is tending just slightly high for the style. Minimal sweetness, complex aromatics, vinous oaky tones, and a bone dry finish all work well together. Somewhat pricey stuff, but worth it – would totally get this again. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brewsters Brewing Company Blue Monk Bourbon Barleywine (2015) – American Barleywine at 11.8% ABV | 60 IBU

Brewsters Brewing Company Blue Monk Bourbon Barleywine (2015) American Barleywine at 11.8% ABV | 60 IBU (C$12.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 28-Sep-2015, reviewed 1-Jan-2017)

Appearance: hazy medium amber with one fat finger of rocky light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: orange peel, bready caramel malt, bourbon, dark fruit, resin. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, slight metallic. (7/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, soft carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Similar to its non-bourbon compatriot, but distinctly hotter. Where I described the other as “not solventy or excessively hot,” this one… is. Well, perhaps not “excessively,” but certainly “emphatically.” On the other hand, the bourbon works reasonably well with the citrus, dark fruit, and hop notes. Again, it seems that the year’s cellaring has helped mellow it. Not clearly better than the original, but a solid alternative. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com